In Context: 5 Web Perspectives On A Story In The News


Calgary removes fluoride from water supply

(CBC) Calgary city council voted to remove fluoride from the city's water supply Tuesday. The decision was passed by a vote of 10-3. The council considered putting the fluoride issue to a plebiscite in the 2013 municipal election, but that motion was denied. Past plebiscites have revealed that public opinion is evenly split on the matter. In 1989, 53 per cent of Calgarians voted in favour of adding fluoride to the water. It was added two years later. Last month, a committee recommended that council remove the chemical from the water supply. Supporters of water fluoridation say it prevents tooth decay in vulnerable populations like children, elderly and the poor. Those who oppose the addition of fluoride in the water supply say it should be up to individuals whether they expose themselves to the chemical. The city will save about $750, 000 per year by removing fluoride from the water supply. They will also save $6 million in upgrades to the water treatment plant needed for water fluoridation.


Federal government fluoride policy

Health Canada
Health Canada is the federal department responsible for health care in Canada. They set health policy and disseminate information about issues that affect the health of Canadians as well as promote healthy living. This site stipulates the level of fluoride that should be added to drinking water to promote health according to the federal government. Health Canada states they have set the optimal concentration of fluoride well below the maximum acceptable level for humans. They also outline which level of government is responsible for the decision to add fluoride to the drinking supply. Additionally they outline the health benefits fluoride has upon children and adults. They have links to websites that support water fluoridation and a list of contacts for those who wish to find more information about fluoride and drinking water.


Not a FAN of fluoride

Fluoride Action Network
The Fluoride Action Network is a registered not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to broaden public awareness about the toxicity of fluoride compounds. The site compiles scholarly research, media coverage and statistics that oppose water fluoridation. They also provide literature reviews of books that oppose fluoride. There are links on the site to support their findings as well as pro-fluoride supporters. They also manage a fluoride health-effects database.


Fluoride and kids

Kid’s Health
Kid's Health is a website that is devoted to providing information for parents, kids and teens about health promotion. It is run by Dr. Neil Izenberg's non-profit organization called the Nemours Centre for Children. The site offers interactive links and diagrams about fluoride, teeth and cavities for kids. Scientists and doctors review the information before it is posted to ensure parents are provided with accurate information. It also tells which medications and toothpaste brands have fluoride, and the benefits and risks of over or underexposure to the chemical. For example, they outline how much fluoride toothpaste should be used according a child's age group. They recommend a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste for children age two and over.


Can fluoride cause cancer?

The Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a community-based organization that aims to eradicate cancer and provide support to those who suffer from the disease. With respect to water fluoridation they specifically address the possible link between fluoride use and cancer. For example, there is a link between fluoride use and osteosarcoma in boys younger that 19. Osteosarcoma is a rare bone cancer. It is important to note that the society says while the health benefits of water fluoridation have been proven it is unlikely that water fluoridation increases the risk of osteosarcoma in humans. They suggest that people should weigh both the benefits and risks associated with water fluoridation. They aim to provide Canadians with the most current research about the link between fluoride and cancer as it becomes available. They outline the benefits and detriments of fluorides.


The fluoride debate

The CBC is Canada's public broadcaster. This website analyzes the fluoride debate that underlies this news story. It lists the pros and cons of adding fluoride to the water supply side by side and shows the divide this debate creates in the medical community. They talk to two doctors, one that supports water fluoridation, and one that opposes it. Additionally they have videos outlining the position of each doctor. Dr. Robert Dickson, who opposes water fluoridation, says that fluoride is meant to work topically. He says ingesting fluoride is akin to ingesting sunscreen. It doesn't work because it is meant to sit on top of your teeth. Dr. Lynn Tomkins, who supports fluoridation, says that the city of Calgary will see a rise in dental cavities, especially in young children if there is no flouride in the water. As a dentist who has worked in a number of Canadian cities, Tomkins says there is a visible difference between fluoridated and non-fluoridated populations.


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